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Maneesh Aggarwal asked: What will be the impact for India if Bhutan allows Chinese to Chumbi valley and how India will encounter it?

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  • Medha Bisht replies: Chumbi Valley has historically been of economic value to India, Tibet and Bhutan. Given the Chinese posturing on Chumbi Valley, however it has been elevated to a strategic level. In the changing geo-political context, as China makes inroads into Southern Asia, suspicion over the Chinese’s intent therefore needs to be reckoned with.

    Chinese influence over the Chumbi valley could impact India in four ways. First, China proximity to India’s North-East and Siliguri Corridor which connects North-Eastern states to India and Nepal to Bhutan becomes closer. Second, it also gets closer to Bangladesh’s periphery in the North as a narrow stretch of land divides Bangladesh from Bhutan. Third, China, will have a better hold over Tibet, thus weakening any potential cards which India would want to play at a later stage, and fourth, it get an offensive advantage to thwart India’s military posturing. Defence of Sikkim in this context would be important. Six roads so far have been built by China near Bhutan’s North and North-West areas. Some sources point out that by 2017, China can have a rail link going to the place.

    India first needs to look inwards and strengthen it its defence preparedness and infrastructure construction plans. Second, at the bilateral level focused effort are needed on engaging Bhutan as a strategic partner, thus sensitizing it of Indian concerns. Third, India should maximize its soft-power approach, providing an enabling environment in Sikkim for Buddhism to flourish.